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Data61 looks to the future with new Robotics Innovation Centre

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Data61 looks to the future with new Robotics Innovation Centre article image

CSIRO’s Data61 is investing heavily in the future of robotics with the opening of a new multi-million dollar Robotics Innovation Centre in Queensland.

The new 600 sqm purpose-built research facility houses the biggest motion capture system in the Southern Hemisphere, used to validate data collected by robotics systems.

The global robotics industry will be worth an estimated $23 billion by 2025 and Data61 is one of the global leaders in the field.

Its capabilities range from legged robots and 3D mapping through to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

The new centre will feature a 13mx5m pool for testing aquatic robots, a significant number of field-deployable UAVs and UGVs, legged robots, high-accuracy robot manipulators as well as sensors and telemetry systems.

Data61_Fred PaulingFred Pauling, Robotics and Autonomous Systems group leader at CSIRO’s Data61 says the new facility would enhance the group’s world-class research capabilities.

Interacting safely and seamlessly with humans

“The new centre expands our research infrastructure to develop highly autonomous robotics systems that can interact safely and seamlessly with humans and other dynamic agents, in challenging indoor and outdoor environments,” Mr Pauling said.

“Our robots are already being used to safely inspect and create 3D maps of underground mines, monitor biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest and navigate difficult terrain in emergency situations.”

One project being spearheaded by the centre is the testing of technology to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments as part of a three-year Subterranean Challenge funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

New appointment

Dr Sue Keay, who is widely recognised as a world leader in social robotics and robotics vision, was recently appointed to lead Data61’s cyber-physical systems research program.

Sue_Keay_IMG_4621 (1)

The new centre will draw on Dr Keay’s experience in developing Australia’s first Robotics Roadmap while playing a key role at QUT’s Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.

The Robotics Roadmap highlights how advances in robotics, computer vision, sensing (and AI) will impact on every sector of the Australian economy.

Unique collaboration opportunities

Adrian Turner, CEO at CSIRO’s Data61, said the centre is a national asset that combines internationally recognised robotics and machine learning research with deep domain expertise from CSIRO.

It will provide unique collaboration opportunities for industry, government and academia, he says.

“Robotics and autonomous systems technologies, underpinned by machine learning and artificial intelligence, will unlock new value in all manner of sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare and mining.”

Mr Turner said through closer robotics R&D collaboration and world-class facilities like the Robotics Innovation Centre, Australia is well placed to benefit from Industry 4.0 and achieve economic success.

Sixth Wave Alliance

Data61 led the formation of the Sixth Wave Alliance last year, a network which seeks to integrate key robotics research organisations and industry partners in Australia to enable a higher level of R&D collaboration.

Data61’s robotics infrastructure is open for industry use and collaborative projects.

This includes dedicated mechanical and electronics engineering laboratories, several high-end rapid prototyping machines, large sheds for indoors systems testing, an open-air UAV flying area and outdoor testing areas including a forest and creek.

For more information about the Robotics Innovation Centre visit the Robotics and Autonomous Systems group research site.

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